Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall on Monday noted that the authorities have been unable to locate millions of dollars invested in Ponzi scheme allegedly operated by Cuban national Yuri Garcia-Dominguez and his Guyanese wife Ateeka Ishmael.
As such, a multi-sector task force comprising the Attorney General, Police and the Guyana Securities Council has been established to recoup the money.
“The investigations are expanding… moving in the direction of anti-money laundering and under the agency of the restructured Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) – that component of the investigative arm of the State has been activated,” Nandlall told the Department of Public Information.
The Attorney General also disclosed that investigations to date, have not revealed any clues about where the money might be hidden.
“In terms of efforts made to recover the money, all of the information provided by the arrested persons as to where the monies supposed to be has been fully investigated and it has led to nowhere. The accounts given by the accused and the companies that were provided that were supposed to be holding this money in various countries, upon investigations, none of these companies was found to be existing. None of the accounts was found to be existing,” the Minister explained.
Minister Nandlall said that while the administration accommodated the accused by reopening an account at a commercial bank to recover the money, none has been returned. Dominguez was also given the use of a computer to make certain transactions as requested, however, he complained that he was unable to do so due to poor internet connection.
“He was taken then to another location in Police custody where they have top-class internet facility and he was given the computer and up to now no money was received into the account. He now wants the Police to sign an agreement; however, the Police were advised to not sign any agreement yet he clamours for bail. Once bail is granted, he will skip the jurisdiction,” the Minister said.
It was noted that several investigative agencies also conducted searches to recover any assets owned by the accused to be held by the State, but this proved futile.
“He does not own a single piece of property [in Guyana] – not a motor vehicle, not a movable property and certainly not an immovable property and no one can provide any sensible information as to the whereabouts of all of these monies that he amasses from the people of Guyana and people elsewhere. So it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt that these monies were received as part of a fraudulent criminal enterprise and they have been converted to the recipients own use and no one knows where these monies are and there are no assets that the State can hold onto,” the Attorney General said.
The couple is associated with Accelerated Capital Firm Inc.; on August 20, Dominguez and his wife were arrested for operating an alleged Ponzi/pyramid scheme.
To date, 17,000 citizens have come forward to say that they enrolled and invested some US$20 million in the alleged Ponzi scheme which claims it uses a foreign exchange platform to trade.
The couple has so far been slapped with 81 charges relating to fraud and remain on remand.